Energy Drinks for the Busy Pastor: Good or Bad?

Long before Red Bull was introduced to America in 1987 (and the plethora of energy drinks that followed,) caffeine had become the most widely used stimulant in the world. Over 90% of Americans drink coffee and slightly over half average three cups each day. Caffeine is now added to soft drinks, bottled water, gum, and even potato chips. And a busy pastor often uses energy drinks to keep up. But should we? Are they good or bad?

I don’t like coffee or tea and don’t drink them. And Red Bull and similar energy drinks give me the jitters. I’ve found, however, that 5-Hour Energy works well to boost my concentration. For the record, I don’t work for the makers of 5-Hour Energy. Also, when I study McDonalds, I get a caffeinated diet drink that I refill often when I get tired.

Since we pastors are busy people, to what degree should we rely on legal stimulants to give us a mental edge?

As I researched this blog[1], I found these statistics about caffeine quite interesting.

  • Brewed coffee has three times more caffeine than instant.
  • Caffeine in a hot drink is absorbed more quickly than from a cold drink.
  • 15-20 minutes after your drink a caffeinated drink, the caffeine reaches it’s highest peak in your blood stream.
  • Caffeine increases the feel-good neurotransmitter, dopamine, in our brain. About five minutes after I drink a 5-Hour Energy, I feel a nice motivation and optimism boost. Perhaps this comes from the high levels of B-vitamins more than from the caffeine.
  • Neurologically, caffeine makes us more alert and focused because it blocks a neurotransmitter called adenosine that causes sleepiness.

On the other hand, scientists have discovered that over-use of caffeine causes some negative effects as well.

  • It can impair long-term memory.
  • It can increase anxiety, especially to anxious prone people. I call this the jitters.
  • We can become addicted, especially if we use it more frequently when we feel stressed.

When I was in college I would occasionally pull an all-nighter. Since I didn’t drink coffee, I’d use a caffeine tablet to keep me awake. Each time I did I got some serious jitters and stomach problems. And I usually got a cold as well, probably because I skipped a night’s sleep.

As a pastor, I’m careful not to become legalistic about what I put into my body, unless I know it will clearly harm it. But, with energy drinks becoming so popular, should we give some thought about how we use them?

As you consider your views on legal stimulants found in coffee and energy drinks, I’ve suggested a few thought provoking questions below.

  1. Are you addicted to caffeine? Can you go a day or two without drinking several cups of coffee, a Red Bull, or a 5-Hour Energy?
  2. Are you masking deep tiredness? By drinking an energy drink are you ignoring that your body may be telling you it’s exhausted and needs more rest and sleep?
  3. Do you practice Sabbath keeping by taking a day off each week to rest, relax, and recover?
  4. Have you considered taking a short nap each day to give you an energy boost? Michael Hyatt wrote a great blog on 5 Reasons You Should Take a Nap each Day as did Helen Sanders at Health Ambition here.
  5. Can you use caffeine/energy drinks to God’s glory? That is, without being legalistic, does your consumption give you those occasional needed bursts of energy/focus so that you can minister more effectively? Or are you relying more on them than His power and good body care habits?
  6. Are you using energy drinks as a replacement for sleep?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3198027/

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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  • Rocky McClintock

    I love your posts.
    The information you provide is provocative and thought provoking. Even more, you are addressing issues that we
    all need to be thinking about in our lives.
    Thank you for you encouragement and inspiration.

    In full disclosure up front, after being a consumer for 6
    months and benefiting from them I am now a part time distributor for all
    natural health products. I am always
    open to providing information on those to anyone who wants, but this is not the
    forum or my purpose in writing this comment.

    Two and a half years ago I almost died. I am thankful every day God has given me to
    live and I cherish them more than I ever did for over 40 years. The doctors said that most of the time when
    they discover the chemical imbalances and tumors that I had that the person is
    already dead. It is only by God’s grace
    that I survived.

    This was all caused by a combination of a chemical imbalance
    that was set off by the stresses of life.
    The chemicals in our foods are killing us. I urge anyone who reads this to not drink the
    mass marketed energy drinks. The mass
    marketed “Energy drinks” are some of the worst offender to our bodies because
    of the manufactured chemical elements in them.
    There are all natural alternatives that work better and are not harmful
    to our bodies. Our bodies are God’s temple.
    You may say that I am going to the extreme, but I have been to the one
    extreme of almost dying and I don’t ever want to go back. I also want to help as many people as I can to never go
    there either.

    Whether you are pastors or parishioners, we are
    all under attack. When our bodies are weak
    then it impacts our minds and our effectiveness for Christ. The stresses of
    life are constant and I encourage everyone to truly look at your health. Get healthy for the sake of being able to
    fulfill the purpose God has for you in your life. Find natural foods and nutrition to put in
    your body. The natural from God is
    better than anything that man can manufacture.
    It is pure and strengthens us to do the work He has each of us to
    do. When we are weary in the body it
    attacks our mind and spirit. It is not
    easy, but it is not as hard as you think, and it is worth it.

  • Pastor Stone, I’d love to hear your thoughts on Rocky’s comment below… what do you think?

    • Charlie, I think that with everything we must practice moderation, including use of anything we put into our body. thanks cs

      • Well said, Charles. I appreciate it. Blessings!

        BTW, I picked up People Pleasing Pastors at a recent FEB Central event… looking forward to digging in soon. 🙂

        • Charlie, hope you enjoy it-where in Canada do you serve?

          • I’m pastoring in Huntsville, Ontario, at Riverside Baptist.